The person given the least attention at Christmas is Joseph.
Barely had he become en-gaged when his bride-to-be disappeared for three months. But upon her return, he was most attentive.
What kind of relationship did Jesus and Joseph have?
Jesus was probably as temperamental as other young boys, but he entered adulthood with a fresh vision of how people should live in relationship with life.
He explained to the people in a healthy, respectful way that God was like a father. As he drew others to work with him, especially young men, the terms of their relationship had to do with mutual respect: what we might call healthy male bonding.
As a woman, I would love to overhear a group of men talk about the relationship between Joseph and Jesus.
Jesus’s teachings seem to bear witness to his experience. He seemed able to get people to think of God in intimate terms. Jesus didn’t act in an authoritarian way as he talked heart to heart with his closest friends, nor did he hide behind a mystique.
Had he learned about respect for others at Joseph’s knee?
When we watch Jesus teach Peter the virtues of patience, again I see the mirror image of mentor and apprentice in the carpenter shop. I see Joseph allowing the lad to make his mistakes, and reminding him that no one is perfect.
Listen to the Christmas story with new ears. Imagine yourself in Joseph’s shoes. Imagine Joseph giving that son a grounding so solid that the lad would dare to teach others a whole new way of thinking about living with each other and with God.
This Christmas, give more attention to Joseph and to his capacity to love — a gift of Christmas.
Joyce Sasse writes for the Canadian Rural Church Network at www.canadian ruralchurch.net.